“The Launch of Africa’s Regional United Nations Technology Innovation Lab”Dec 4, 2017
Speech by: Richard Dictus, UNDP Resident Representative, Egypt
President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, President of Egypt.
Your Excellency, Eng. Yasser El-Kady, Minister of Communication and Information Technology.
Excellencies, Distinguished Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,
- It gives me great pleasure to be with you today at the 21st Cairo ICT Forum and Exhibition, the third to be held under the auspices of H.E. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.
- Egypt has always been a key regional player in the area of information and communication technology (ICT) and innovation, committed to the growth and sustainability of the telecom sector in a manner that reduces exclusion, vulnerabilities and gender disparities. Committed to the expansion of the innovative utilization of ICT in all areas of life accelerating the socio-economic development of Egypt and making ICT more accessible and affordable to all citizens.
- In a world that is complex, hyperconnected and dynamic, we cannot go about doing business as usual. We, at the UN, are firm believers that as development challenges become increasingly complex, development stakeholders must design and adopt more innovative approaches to tackling them.
- As stressed by the United Nations Secretary General, technology plays a key role in promoting progress and peace, ranging from climate change to public health; from food security to sanitation; from disarmament to disaster preparedness.
- Innovation plays a vital role in the delivery of our mandates as the United Nations, augmenting the role of technology, and accelerating the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
- We the see the value of big data in disaster risk reduction, the internet of things in optimizing agricultural production, and the use of virtual reality in enhancing education efficacy.
- In Egypt, progress made in the field of ICT under the leadership of Minister Yasser El Kady and the guidance of Mr. President has been exemplary. We have witnessed the launch of the 4G and the introduction of the first integrated telecom provider to the market, the economic benefits of which are multiple.
- We have witnessed the development of smart villages and technology parks beyond Cairo, reaching previously untapped territory and unraveled youth potential. As are banks and schools, these new establishments are vital infrastructure; generators of entrepreneurs, and what we foresee to be the growth of a plethora of technology-based companies and massive knowledge transfer.
- We have witnessed the commitment to IT and ICT-driven innovation, entrepreneurship through strong youth capacity development programmes such as the Next Technology Leaders Programme, that aim to continue to strategically position Egypt both regionally and internationally as suppliers of technology leaders.
- UNDP’s partnership with MCIT dates back to 2000 and I have to acknowledge and appreciate the productive, dynamic and constantly innovation-driven collaboration it has been since. UNDP has partnered with MCIT in the upgrade of ICT infrastructure, the development of ICT policies, strategies and indicators, the support to entrepreneurship and demand driven ICT skills development, the modernization of the Egypt Post, and the design and implementation of integrated development models.
- Today we take this cooperation once step further. In October of this year, H.E. Ambassador Amr Aboulatta, the Egyptian Permanent Representative to the UN, and Mr. Ozzeir Khan, Chief of Business Relationship Management at the UN Office for ICT signed a letter of intent, committing both parties to support the establishment of the African Regional United Nations Technology Innovation Lab in Egypt. Highlighting Egypt’s commitment to South South Cooperation, and to strengthening its cooperation with the countries of Africa in particular. Today, we have the pleasure to announce the launch of this Lab, after months of rigorous effort by the Government of Egypt and the United Nations.
- With strong support from the Private Sector, the Lab will be designed with intent to train, host and implement technology innovations to help Egypt progress towards achieving its Sustainable Development Strategy and the global Sustainable Development Goals.
- Establishment of the African UNTIL in Egypt will immediately facilitate access to a network of UN Technology Innovation Labs, to the UN Office of ICT and to the United Nations Development Programme. Our biggest resources today are not only financial; they are the people in our networks as they serve as rich sources of knowledge, of support and of expertise.
- I wish to congratulate Egypt on launching the first United Nations Technology Lab in Africa, strategically positioning Egypt as a technology and innovation leader in the region. A true demonstration of a strong innovation ecosystem, visionary leadership and effective partnerships.
- The launch of the Lab has been a long time in the making and I would be remiss if I did not thank Eng. Yasser El Kady, Minister of Communication and Information Technology and his respective teams at the Ministry and at the Information Technology Industry Development Agency’s Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, and Mr. Ozzeir Khan, Chief of Business Relationship Management, UNOICT and his team, for the tremendous effort exerted in ensuring its smooth launch.